‘Training built around us’

What was the issue you were addressing or working on?

The need for training that was merged and developed, if you will, to find the right balance between the needs of our clients and the needs of our volunteers. Existing training for befrienders was felt too ‘cold’ and failed to take into account the range of needs and aspirations of older people themselves – and the relationships which develop from such initiatives.

Older people and volunteers were unimpressed with existing training, and had viewed several packages; this was a truly co-productive approach.

What you did?

For the first time a training package has been entirely co-produced locally by older people, volunteers, Alzheimer Scotland Resource Centre and Argyll Voluntary Action; designed, produced and road tested with older people at the centre of development.

Argyll Voluntary Action Community Resilience Staff worked with Alzheimer Scotland, initially to review the befriending training as based on the national Befrienders’ Network.  This was discussed with older people and with volunteers who wished to become befrienders and found to be wanting; it did not cover those aspects older people felt were most important and although not unusable there was agreement between older people, volunteers and the two organisations AVA and Alzheimer that this could be made much more relevant and appropriate if time were taken to co-design and co-produce a training toolkit and course which had input from all stakeholders.  From using the Resource Centre over a period of meetings the essence of the course was discussed, amendments made were these met the demands and needs of local people resulting in a revised training course for volunteers which has been entirely co-produced from start to finish.  Clearly, it was helpful to have a starting point but importantly, a range of views were incorporated including volunteers who would be the befrienders.  By joint working between Alzheimer Scotland and AVA no costs were attached to this exercise and befrienders feel more confident with the training received.

What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?

  1. Co-production is seen as more than a principle; it is a reality with organisations supporting the principle into practice.
  2. Volunteers are confident they have skills which are not only appropriate, but which meet the needs and demands of older people
  3. Older people have been involved and have ownership of the training which underpins a volunteer run service
  4. Older people originally were clear that befriending should be volunteer run and being involved in this development has strengthened that view
  5. The exercise was carried out over just 4 weeks, the benefits are a service which matches and meets demand and need and the cost is minimal.
  6. This also reduces any need to purchase expensive training from a national network
  7. Integrity and safety are in built and relevant checks are made; there is no loss of value or relevance in the support and training offered.

Contacts - to find out more

Glenn Heritage,  glenn@argyllvoluntaryaction.org.uk   01631-564839